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How My Dad’s Stroke Can Help You Prevent One

By Lisa Perez, Marketing Director, Bayer Aspirin, Bayer Consumer Health

My father is a proud man, and he certainly doesn’t want to reveal any weakness. The story of my dad’s stroke started with a call from my aunt late one evening. She told me she spoke to my dad and he seemed off. Since my aunt rarely calls, I knew this had to be serious.

I immediately called my dad to see how he was doing. He didn’t sound great to me either. But he explained it away with reasonable excuses, so off to bed I went. When I checked in on him the next day, I still didn’t like how he sounded. Since I live about two hours away, I asked my cousin to check in on him. And of course, with more excuses and great acting skills, he fooled us once again.

Since my mom passed away the year prior, there was no one to keep my dad honest. After a few more phone calls, we knew something was definitely wrong when he couldn’t remember his granddaughter’s name. At this point, I knew timing was critical, so I called another relative to get him to the emergency room ASAP and I drove directly to the hospital.

When I got to the hospital, I learned that my dad had a TIA (Transient ischemic attack) a few weeks prior. This is a temporary period of symptoms similar to those of a stroke. He was experiencing the impact of short-term memory loss and numbness on his left side. He was immediately admitted to the hospital for further tests and suffered a stroke in the middle of the night. After many more tests and consultations with several doctors, I was shocked to hear that his physician’s treatment plan included an aspirin regimen to help manage his risk factors. As the marketing director for Bayer® Aspirin*, I know what this powerful molecule can do to save and extend lives, but I never thought the tiny little pill would be front and center for my dad.

Perhaps the most valuable part of this story for those of you who are reading this blog is my father’s ignorance to his risk and the months of warning signals. We must all pay attention to our family medical history and associated warning signals. My dad has a family history of strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and undiagnosed diabetes. In recent months, he had been experiencing dizziness and moments where he would ‘black out’ for several minutes. And his poor lifestyle choices only put gasoline on this ready to explode fire.

Thankfully his stroke didn’t cause major damage, and we’ve learned to be more patient with his short-term memory loss and the need for lots of repeating. He knows his limits, is making smarter lifestyle choices, and is more vocal when something isn’t feeling right. On top of that, he clearly knows his sweet granddaughter’s name, Charlotte.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Research shows that as much as 80 percent of coronary heart disease and 70 percent of strokes can be avoided with healthy lifestyle behaviors.

The solutions for preventing cardiovascular disease seem simple and include:

· Understanding your family history;

· Managing high blood pressure and high cholesterol;

· Staying physically active;

· Maintaining a healthy diet; and

· Quitting smoking

But they aren’t always easy.

To drive preventative heart health awareness, I’m proud to share that Bayer recently joined the Alliance for Million Hearts campaign, a newly formed public-private coalition aimed at preventing a million heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular events by 2022.

Understanding your risk factors, as well as warning signs of heart disease, is so important. With this knowledge, you can take action before a stroke or heart attack escalates further.

Learn more about the CDC Alliance for Million Hearts.

Link to website here.

* Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.

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